Mozart: Haffner serenade, K. 250
Concertmaster: Alexander Janiczek
Featuring: Concerto Budapest
The Haffner and Mozart families of Salzburg enjoyed a close friendship. The older Sigmund Haffner was a well-to-do trader and mayor of the city who frequently organized concerts at his home, in which both Leopold Mozart and Wolfgang Amadeus also participated. The friendship continued even after the death of the mayor, and when in 1776 Haffner’s daughter, Maria Elisabeth, was preparing for her wedding, Mozart was asked to compose some celebratory music. The piece was first played on the eve of the wedding. These sorts of ad hoc productions were everyday jobs in urban music life, and the fact that Mozart took them so seriously can be partly explained by the friendship he felt towards the Haffners and partly by his pride as a composer. The highly demanding and interestingly structured serenade goes well beyond the frames dictated by the age and occasion, being unconventional divertimento music. Both in tone and in scale and form, the first movement evokes the symphony genre. Movements 2, 3 and 4 are as if they were guest genres in the body of a serenade: triple-movement, complete violin concerto. In the continuation of two further minuets and a completely remarkable slow movement, the latter is particularly noteworthy: it is like a fantastic combination of sonata, rondo and variation series. The last movement closes this truly exceptional work of music on an uplifted note memorable for it ‘sizzling’, youthful élan.
Mozart’s connection with the Haffner family continued. In 1782, on the occasion of the ennoblement of the younger Sigmund Haffner, the composer (then resident in Vienna) was once again commissioned to write a serenade. The symphony derived from this composition became one of Mozart’s most popular pieces.